By Design

design – plan, aim, blueprint, outline, pattern, intention, purpose, point, target, goal

Two encounters in the past two days reminded me of God’s faithfulness to adjust (correct, fine-tune, change, alter, regulate, amend, modify, tweak) us for His glory.  I encourage you to acknowledge daily that God’s design for your life is much greater than anything you can imagine!

Encounter 1

Yesterday, my gym held an Open House event with outside vendors.  While I excitedly anticipated a complimentary eyebrow waxing, I arrived to discover that the waxing vendor never confirmed – and I’d even called her myself a few days prior to see what time she’d be at the gym.  (Maybe it sounds like overkill, but if you’d seen the fuzzy caterpillars on my forehead, you’d understand my urgency with nailing down this time and date of service).  Nevertheless, God had an even more delightful treat in store for me.  As I went to change into my workout clothes, I spotted makeup artist Sissy Duncan (and her seemingly endless array of eye, cheek, and lip palettes – oooh, aaah!) set up in the bathroom – this was a definite “goodie” upgrade, and a motivating incentive for me to finish my entire 30-minute date with the elliptical machine to earn this treat. 

After drying off and cooling down, I eagerly hopped into her chair and she went to work on my face for a 10-minute touch-up.  She gave me a natural look, but it was polished and refined (quite an enhancement since I hadn’t put on any makeup before leaving the house that morning).  I left feeling significantly prettier, but I couldn’t see the details under the gym bathroom’s lighting.  I knew I looked better leaving than when I’d walked in, but I didn’t notice how dramatic the difference was until I got onto the mirrored elevator back in my building – 5 blocks up the street.  I literally did a double take when I saw the impact of the “smoky eye” technique…I said, “This girl’s work is absolutely slammin’!” While her concealer worked wonders, she brought out a light in my eyes I didn’t know was there!  I do a pretty good job with my own makeup when I put effort into getting all “gussied up,” but Sissy made it obvious that technique, experience, and quality products make a world of difference.  Not only was she well-trained, but she was dedicated to passionately perfecting her craft for ultimate customer satisfaction.

As her business name implies, I left Sissy’s presence feeling Simply Beautiful.  When I willingly yielded to being malleable clay in her hands, she created a work that improved upon the original.  God will do the same with us when we choose to obey His way instead of stubbornly resisting (or refusing!) the work of His molding, shaping, and sculpting tools in our lives. 

Encounter 2

One of my teammates has been developing a database for the past few months.  This morning, she asked to view something on my screen because it looked weird on hers.  Peering at my screen, she murmured, “You’re definitely supposed to see that “Upcoming Action Items” field, and the “Create” button is off…too far to the right.”  I thought it looked a bit strange, but I had no frame of reference or specifications to compare it to.  Since she helped design it from scratch, she immediately noticed the inconsistency, discrepancy, and contradiction between “what is” and “what should be.”  Not only was she able to detect an issue, but she knew how to fix it! 

She thanked me for my time, then headed back to her desk to work out the bugs. I sensed her irritation and slight annoyance that it wasn’t working as intended.  Could it be that God feels the same way when we don’t walk in the path He’s laid out for us?  How are we “showing up” as His children?  Do our actions “look weird” or incongruent with our professed Christian witness on the screen of life because we’re “a bit off”…too far to one side or the other?  Let us commit each day to walk in obedience – according to the design of God’s plan for our lives.  After all, He is sovereign! 

“O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”

(Jeremiah 18:6)

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

(Jeremiah 29:11)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

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Are You Allergic to Sin?

allergic – sensitive to, affected by

allergy – reaction, aversion, hypersensitivity

antipathy – hatred, opposition, ill feeling

When she began to light up her cigarette, before I knew it, I told the lady I’d been casually chatting with from the train station, “I’m allergic, so I’m gonna cross the street here.  Have a good day!”  I don’t know if I’m really allergic to tobacco smoke, but I have such a strong aversion to it that I try to steer clear of it at all costs.  I’m not judging anyone, but I have a personal preference to be in a smoke-free environment 24/7.  When I see someone on the sidewalk ahead of me with a cigar, I’ll go out of my way to avoid walking through the revolting cloud.  At the very least, I’ll hold my breath as long as I can, so as not to get the ickiness in my lungs, throat, and nasal passages. Cigar smoke repulses (and literally nauseates) me.

As Christians, we should be the same way with sin – but are we?  Not just what we think of or categorize as sin (i.e., what we label as “the biggies” – though God doesn’t categorize sin), but what God Himself calls sin (unrighteousness; whatever doesn’t line up with His Word).  Not only the outwardly apparent stuff, but especially those inner matters of the heart that no one but God sees when we try (and miserably fail) to hide them.  The effect of sin (including our own!) in our presence should be an automatically righteous response – but this comes by disciplining ourselves with (and submitting consistently to) the Word of God.  We must constantly desire to walk in light and truth instead of getting comfortable in darkness and “grey areas” of compromise.

Do you hate sin – in yourself as well as in others?  Since sin blocks, pollutes, taints, and contaminates the flow of relationship with our Creator (and consequently impacts our relationships with our brothers and sisters), ask God to give you a hatred toward the things He hates.  As we 1) humble ourselves in His presence, 2) honestly admit the (numerous) areas we come up short, and 3) genuinely repent (evidenced by a change of heart and behavior), He is faithful to cleanse us so we can experience unbroken fellowship with Him.  Run (don’t walk!) to His refreshing well of pure, life-giving water and be cleansed today!

“Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.”

(Ezekiel 37:23)

“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

(John 4:14)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

A Joyful Heart, A Right Attitude

While waiting for this morning’s train, I saw an older gentleman doing his job.  It’s not what he was doing that caught my attention as much as how he did it. You see, he wore plastic gloves and a fluorescent safety vest for visibility, and he was wiping down the railings near the train stop.  It wasn’t a particularly prestigious task, and he was hardly noticed by most of the waiting commuters.  However, the vigor and intention with which he wiped down those posts really ministered to me!

I thought, “If I had this brother’s positive outlook while doing my own work, what could I accomplish today that would bring honor to God?”  In that moment, that man was engaged in pure worship to his Creator. He was thankful for having a job, and that was evident in his purposeful actions, pace, upbeat attitude, and demeanor. He commanded respect; he was so focused that I wanted to greet him with a hearty, “Good morning, sir!”  It didn’t matter that he wasn’t wearing a 3-piece suit or working on a job making a 6-figure salary.  He carried himself in a way that exuded gratitude, and that was a great practical devotion for me!

Today, check what you’re emitting.  If it’s time for an attitude adjustment because others don’t see the joy of the Lord in you as you progress through your workday, give God full access to your control panel – and allow Him to tweak you for His glory.

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”

(Psalm 24:3-5)

 “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

(Colossians 3:22-24)

 © Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Peculiar or Familiar?

peculiar – strange, unusual, uncharacteristic, atypical, distinctive, individual, special

familiar – common, customary, typical, regular, traditional, usual

Wow – what CONVICTION came over me upon the reminder and realization that “there’s no way you can be peculiar when you’re familiar.” My heart was pricked from the time I left work, and I went straight to repenting (yes, again) – during my entire commute home.  How could I continue to feed myself the enemy’s fare from a smorgasbord of heist getaways, lust, and deceit – and expect to walk in righteousness?  I was setting myself up for a fall.

So with resolute intention, I deleted more shows from my DVR: “In Plain Sight” for taking the Lord’s name in vain – repeatedly and remorselessly (along with unapologetic fornication – yeah, I’m married, but I don’t need that seed planted in my spirit); “White Collar” for two women kissing as if there’s nothing wrong with it; and “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” for repeated variations of murderous plots – I don’t need to be desensitized. In and of themselves, I didn’t think the programs were bad.  I took issue with the no-longer-subtle but now painfully obvious, overt, blatantly antichrist agenda that has become so prevalent in the story lines.  If it’s not originating from the heart of God, do I need to partake of it?  How can I expect any good thing to come from a sewer or cesspool?  It’s a collecting place for filth!  Should I be surprised with any of the base depravity and vile wickedness the world presents these days?  They’re just showing evidence of their “anything goes; if it feels good, do it” philosophy.  But that is utterly CONTRARY to God’s Word.

I’d set these programs to record for the entire season, but with a QUICKNESS, I deleted any episode that had already been recorded, and cancelled the “record the season” command.  I have to vigilantly protect the treasure God has placed in my earthen vessel – and so do you!  As we grow closer in our walk with the Lord, He shows us more areas we can yield to His sovereignty.  He won’t force us, but He invites us into closer relationship and deeper intimacy with Him.  Because God is holy and there is no unrighteousness in Him, He desires for us to be holy like Him.

I willingly surrendered the TV programs because I don’t want anything to impede, obstruct, hamper, or impair my relationship with my Creator – or become an idol that takes precedence over the true and living God.  A TV show – or ANYTHING else, for that matter – is NOT worth forfeiting my eternity with Christ. Asking God to cleanse me while rolling around in a mud hole (or playing near one while wearing a white outfit) is ludicrous.  So my walk increases as the heat intensifies and He seeks His Bride without spot, wrinkle, or blemish.  Find me hidden in You, Lord – beneath the shadow of Your cross, I pray.  Amen.

Where do you stand?  Are you peculiar, consecrated, and set apart unto God – or are you familiar, comfortable, and cozy with the world and its carnal mindset?

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?
whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

(James 4:4)

“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

(I Peter 1:15-16)

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;”

(I Peter 2:9)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Redefining Sin?

This should have been posted the day after the last entry, but for the past few weeks, I’ve been working to “walk the talk.”  So the next few entries may be a catch-up.  I pray you’re also experiencing spiritual growth and maturity as you yield to the Holy Spirit.

After my food-induced “judgment blackout,” I repented to the Lord for allowing myself to lapse long enough to even pitch my tent in the direction of Sodom, though I was nowhere near the city limits when I began my “just a little taste, just this once” sham of a self-deception.

I buffeted my body (punished it, not like going to a buffet – LOL) and talked to myself the whole way to the gym for 30 minutes on the elliptical.  I had to PAY for the overindulgent caloric overages I’d permitted in the previous 7 days. In my past days of denial, I might have nervously laughed and said, “Oh goodness, I ate a bit too much!  How on earth did that happen?”  But now that I’ve matured, I’ve gotta walk in truth and admit, “Yep, it was the sin of gluttony – not at all pretty, but true.  Father, please forgive me!”

Confession is good for the soul.  God hates sin – but He loves the sinner.  When we repent and ask Him to cleanse us, He is faithful to do so.  But we can’t wallow in what He’s lifted us out of.  I challenge you to call sin what it is (not a “weakness,” “deficiency,” “illness,” or “disorder” – just plain, outright SIN that goes against God’s holy Word.  Then repent and go another way.  We can’t keep coddling and making excuses for our sins if we expect to be delivered from them.

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”

(Isaiah 5:20-21)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart